Chapter Three

Molly O'Brien happened to be the youngest aboard the Defiance. She'd been aboard when the Defiance had launched, shortly before Earth fell. She'd been five, almost six then. Her sixth birthday had coincided with the fall of Vulcan. She'd forgotten about her seventh birthday. Everyone had forgotten about it. The Defiance was not a ship that did a lot of celebrating. It was a warship, a rescue ship, a survivor.

Her crew was trapped between realities, now. Their was no light, no feeling, no input what so ever to their brains ... except for a strange signal which triggered replays of their memories.

...

Molly O'Brien found herself skipping onto the bridge of the Defiance. She wore a deep red pinafore, a dress that she'd outgrown a long time ago. Her mother quickly pulled her over to her side. "Behave," came her mother's admonishment, as an hand on her shoulder restricted her movement.

Molly looked up, focusing on the viewscreen, which had an view of the ship she was on, focusing on a spinning bottle headed for it. It impacted the baby blue hull of the Defiance, sending a red stain onto the hull as the glass bottle shattered on impact.

The view returned to a forward view, the front opening of the space dock framing the stars. As Molly twisted under her mother's grip, in order to look around the bridge, the tall black human in the center seat, spoke up, his firm voice giving the orders. "Mister Corzine, thrusters ahead full, take us out."

"Aye, sir," the beared helmsman replied. The ship began to move forward, the space dock falling behind her. In the distance, Molly saw the stars ripple. It was the first sign of what was to be the fall of the Federation.

The Federation was already at war, and had already suffered it's loss at the Battle of Lalande 21185, though Molly had not known at the time. For her, it was just a sudden uprooting. Her father would no longer be on the Enterprise, though her mother would be remaining there. Her mother would no longer be a staff biologist on the Enterprise, but her secondary training as a operations officer. Molly was supposed to remaining on the Enterprise. All her things were still there.

Centuries ago, a committee had chosen a particular sound and announcement to be broadcast in the event of invasion. It would automatically be sounded on the bridge of every Federation Vessel in the system. The announcement had been continuously updated, and had been recently used. The Enterprise, however, had not been in system when the Borg had arrived. She also would have had no chance to be on the Bridge of the Enterprise under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

The chosen sound was from an old Country song, know as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." It was the shrieking sound just as the Devil began his fiddling. In the song, the devil lost. The accompanying announcement would signal the chances of the Federation. "Sector 001, Earth, has been invaded by hostile ... Romulan ... forces. They have opened fire on ... Starbase One ... McKinley Stations ... the Moon ... Jupiter Station ... all civilian craft should depart areas under attack. Issued under orders of Admiral Ross, Star Fleet Operations San Francisco." The sound repeated, and Captain Sisko slammed his hand down on the arm of his chair, cutting it off.

"Shields up, ready phasers and quantum torpedoes," Sisko ordered.

Molly and her mother stood still, shocked, at the back of the bridge. They did not think, did not know, what to do, so they did nothing.

...

The first ship to be destroyed was the USS Richard Petty. Built as a warp speed test bed, it had been unable to evade the incoming fire from the horde of Romulan Warbirds that had decloaked in Earth orbit. The list quickly grew. Endeavor, Hornet, Yorktown, Reagan, Indefatigable, Galaxy, Harrington, Kirk, Maine, Sovereign ... Enterprise.

The flagship of the Federation went down with fire, her saucer coming free as her star drive section burned in unshielded re-entry. Her bridge had actually been ejected intact due to an explosion in waste reclaimation, which left the saucer in an uncontrolled descent. No one could stop it, as it slipped out of orbit and headed down, de-orbiting in an uncontrolled wobble. It's shields snapped up automatically, as the heat rose, allowing it to descend in one piece. The people of the town of Trenton, New Jersey, North America, would had been better off if they hadn't. Over fifty thousand died in the crash on the ground. In the saucer, only one survived.

Up in orbit, the Defiance had arrived, twisting, turning, firing, turning Romulan Warbirds into slag with her overpowered engines keeping her out of the fire, her odd staccato phaser fire finding it's way into the best frequencies on the warbird's shields. She pivoted around the ejected bridge of the Enterprise, and suddenly it was empty.

The battle was being lost though. If the fleet had consisted of Defiance Class vessels, they might have actually won. Too many ships had been caught with their shields down, though, and couldn't have stood that opening fire like the Defiance might have done with it's ablative armor. It didn't help that the Romulans seemed to have a second sense as to what ship hosted the commander. It shouldn't have been a surprise, though. After all the seniority lists and flagships were publically available information. It wasn't until Captain Picard reached the bridge of the Defiance that the chain of command stabilized. By then it was too late.

...

It should not be said that the Defiant was escaping unscathed. Just as Commander Sisko ordered the run to rescue those on the ejected bridge of the Enterprise-E, a small panel to the right of the helm blew out, knocking the helmsman out of his chair, and gouging a rip in the man's head and neck.

Molly felt her mother's grip disappear as her mother's voice rang out. "I've got the helm." Her mother surged forward and took the injured officer's seat. Molly had never seen her mother in the pilot's seat before, her father usually had the helm. She hadn't even known her mother could fly.

From the back of the bridge, a doctor surged toward the injured helmsman, now laid bleeding. He brushed passed Molly, imparting some of his motion on her, until she found herself beside the bleeding helmsman. The doctor looked up at her, and grabbed her hand. "Press hard, here," he ordered. Molly obeyed, but she couldn't keep her eyes on the bloody wound that she was holding together. Instead she focused her eyes on the determined face of the doctor, as he tried to save the life of the helmsman.

It seemed to take a long time for the doctor to repair the wound. Molly kept her eyes focused on the arabic features of the doctor, not the feeling of blood on her hand. Eventually, the doctor pushed Molly's bloody hand away. Molly watched as the helmsman was carried out, still squatted down next to where he had lain. As he reached the door at the rear of the bridge, it opened, revealing Captain Picard. He flattened to the left side as the doctor carried the injured helmsman out.

Captain Picard found the one open station on the bridge, and took a seat, bringing up the fleet status. "Commander Sisko," he said, briefly turning towards the center seat. "I'm assuming command of the fleet, following the loss of the Bismark and Rear Admiral Williams."

"Acknowledged," Sisko replied. "We're not getting ahead at the moment."

"Understood," Picard replied. "Your ship seems to be the only one able to reply with impunity at the moment. We're going to have to use it."

"Romulans launching on planetary targets!" someone announced.

"Three nuclear explosions, in the 150KT range," another reported. "San Francisco, Paris, and New York all destroyed."

"It's time to leave," Sisko stated.

"Agreed," Captain Picard said. "The Defiance will take point. We will swing by Mars to pick up any remaining ships before departing for Vulcan."

...

The memory ended, and Molly slept between realities again. The clamp still held.